Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I know many of you are wondering why I haven't posted anything lately. There's a very good reason why...

Ramble On and its owners are moving! We are in the process of selling our house, packing up our belongings, and relocating to Washington state for new jobs and new adventures. I will get back to blogging regularly once we have settled in to our next abode. I have packed away most of my kitchen stuff already, but will try to squeeze out one more post before I move, within the next couple of days. I will miss the beautiful kitchen that has been my "foodie home" for the past four years, but look forward to discovering and settling into a new home and kitchen and a continued culinary journey. Thank you for reading! Until later.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Summer Rolls)

What can I say? I guess I've been on an Asian food kick this week...enjoy!

Spring can't come fast enough and we are all craving fresh foods. This is a deliciously fresh-tasting bundle of veggies wrapped in rice paper skins. Have you ever used rice paper skins? They are very brittle to the touch, and need to be handled carefully. Soaking it in water for a few seconds softens it, and makes it easy to work with. They can be eaten raw like this once softened. Here is the recipe:

 Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Summer Rolls)

You will need:
2 cups shrimp, peeled, thoroughly cleaned and cooked (click here if you're wondering how to clean)
1 cup peeled and thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
splash of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 rice paper skins (available at any asian grocery)

Combine all ingredients from shrimp through black pepper together in a bowl. Put some water in a shallow dish, or dinner plate, and soak a rice paper skin in this for about 15 seconds, then turn over and soak again - this softens it. After soaking, remove to a clean work surface and pile one heaped tablespoon of the shrimp mixture on top of the skin. Fold sides in, and roll up, laying seam side down when finished. Repeat for remaining skins, or until you've run out of the filling! Serve immediately, or refrigerate until needed. These can be made up to one day in advance, or make terrific cold lunches the next day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Garlic Shrimp

This is an authentic Chinese recipe for Garlic Shrimp that I learned at the last meeting of our little International Cooking Club this month. Not only are the flavors wonderful, it is very easy to make, and requires just a few basic ingredients. And it sure beats the greasy take out chinese alternative. Perfect for a quick dinner on a weeknight, paired with some cooked long grain white or brown rice.

Garlic Shrimp

You will need:
2 cups of cooked, peeled, and cleaned shrimp (see this post for a terrific way to clean shrimp)
6-8 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce, or more as needed
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine cleaned shrimp and minced garlic, and steam this either in a steamer basket over a large pan, or in a bamboo steamer for 15 minutes. Remove to a dish, and add a couple tablespoons of the steaming liquid to the dish. Add the soy sauce. Then, heat up the oil in a small saucepan, and when very hot pour this into the shrimp dish - be careful, it WILL splatter, so stand back! Stir well, cover the dish, and let it come together for a couple of minutes. Stir in the green onions just before serving. Enjoy!

A Terrific Way To Clean Shrimp!

I recently learned this genius new way to clean shrimp, which gets rid of that "shrimpy" smell. This technique is credited to my new chinese friend, from our little International Cooking Club (we did China last week). The smell I am talking about seems to be one main reason that people who don't eat shrimp (for reasons besides allergies) continue to avoid it. It does a wonderful job of cleaning shrimp, and getting rid of the smell. Here is the method, for approximately one pound of shrimp. All you need is salt, cooking wine (whatever you have - I used sherry), and cornstarch! It doesn't get any simpler.

Peel the shrimp, pull off the tails, and remove the yucky black stuff from the ends, then rinse thoroughly in water. Then, add about 2 generous teaspoons of salt, and about 1/4 cup of the cooking wine. Mix thoroughly (yes, with your hands) to make sure all shrimp are coated. Then add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and mix well for about a minute. Then rinse well and wipe all the moisture off and make sure they are thoroughly dry. Your shrimp is now ready to sauté, steam, grill, bake, or cook any way you want!
I just cleaned a whole lot of shrimp and prawns this way and will be posting several shrimp and prawn recipes this week!